I.B.M. Announces Brainy Computer Chip - NYTimes.com
Dharmendra Modha, an I.B.M. researcher, is the leader of the project to create cognitive computer chips.
Since the early days in the 1940s, computers have routinely been described as “brains” — giant brains or mathematical brains or electronic brains. Scientists and engineers often cringed at the distorting simplification, but the popular label stuck.
Wait long enough, it seems, and science catches up with the metaphor. The field of “cognitive computing” is making enough progress that the brain analogy is becoming more apt. I.B.M. researchers are announcing on Thursday two working prototype cognitive computer chips.
The chip designs are the result of a three-year project involving I.B.M. and university researchers, supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The academic collaborators are at Columbia University, Cornell University, the University of California, Merced and the University of Wisconsin.
The results to date have been sufficiently encouraging that Darpa is announcing on Thursday that it will commit an additional $21 million to the project, the third round of government funding, which brings the total to $41 million.
The cognitive chips are massively parallel microprocessors that consume very little power. But they also have a fundamentally different design. The two prototype semiconductor cores each has 256 neuronlike nodes. One core is linked to 262,144 synapselike memory modules, while the other is linked to 65,536 such memory synapses.